Hoquiam paper mill closure eliminates 230 jobs

Hoquiam paper mill closure eliminates 230 jobs »Play Video
HOQUIAM, Wash. — Grays Harbor Paper has shut down its Hoquiam mill, throwing more than 200 people out of work - the latest victims of the economy.

The pile of hog fuel that fired the mill's furnaces is just sitting there. There's no smoke in the smokestack.

And for Jason Hatley there's no job.

"This has been a great part of my life. I'm 40 years old, and I've worked here half my life," he says. "I don't blame nobody for this. You move on, retrain or find another job. Not going to be easy."

When the old mill was built 80 years ago, the Welcome Inn was the lunch shack. Now the sign says, "Our prayers are with you."

"It's sad, it is, knowing it's been there for so long and served so many jobs," says Kevin Bradshaw, owner of the Welcome Inn.

Some 231 employees used to work at the mill. That includes Jerry Elsos.

"As I left yesterday afternoon, I was told I was off indefinitely," he says. "A couple of hours later they told me there was no more. They terminated everybody."

He shares a beer with Charlie Bryson, who is on indefinite layoff at a veneer plant. The timber industry isn't always good:

"I started out with Anderson mill. They went down. I moved to Mayor Brothers - they were shut down," he says.

The unemployment rate here is 13 percent and now will go up. The mayor promises to act. And he has a special reason.

"My parents worked there in the late 1930s - it's a generational issue," says Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney. "It's really part of the community, and when it closes we lose something very important."

In a news release the owners called the closure permanent. President Patrick Quigg says the high price of materials, lower than expected sales, and cash flow considerations are the main reasons for Thursday's shutdown.

The owners also blamed a failed effort at refinancing.

The city says it will try to find a buyer.

The mayor says that help from the state was critical in the recent re-opening of a closed mill in Cosmopolis. Now he's hoping the governor will help out once again.